Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022

April 21, 1999

Library of Congress Publishes Facsimile of a Rare 1562 Map of the Americas

The Library of Congress has just published a facsimile of a 16th century map of the Americas. This spectacular and ornate map was the largest engraved map of North and South America at the time. Through the assistance of the VITAE Foundation in Brazil and Digicolor in Seattle, the Library produced a facsimile of the original map, one of two known originals, that was given to the Library's Geography and Map Division by Lessing J. Rosenwald in 1949. The map reproduction is accompanied by a brochure containing the history of the map and the events surrounding its preparation written by John R. Hébert, Senior Specialist in Hispanic Bibliography, of the Library's Hispanic Division.

Sixteenth century European explorers, primarily from Spain and Portugal, successfully uncovered vast portions of the Western Hemisphere, and their findings were revealed gradually to an information-starved Europe during the first half-century following Christopher Columbus's voyage to America. In 1562, Diego Gutiérrez, a Spanish cartographer from the respected Casa de la Contratación in Seville, and Hieronymous Cock, a noted engraver from Antwerp, collaborated in the preparation of this map that provided substantial information about vast portions of this new world.

The map depicted the East Coast of the United States, Central and South America, Canada and Mexico and portions of the western coasts of Europe and Africa. It also provided a richly illustrated view of a region filled with images and names that had been popularized in Europe after 1492. On the map were found one of the earliest references to California, the Amazon River system, other rivers of South America, Lake Titicaca, the location of Potosí, Bolivia (a silver mining center), and Mexico City, Florida and the greater southeastern part of the United States, and myriad coastal features of South, Central, North, and Caribbean America. Images of parrots, monkeys, mermaids, fearsome sea creatures, cannibals, Patagonian giants, and an erupting volcano in central Mexico complemented the numerous settlements, rivers, mountains, and capes named.

The beautiful facsimile of the map, which measures 93 by 86 cm., and the brochure are available for $28 from the Library's Sales Shop. Credit card orders are taken at (202) 707-0204 and fax orders at (202) 707-5057. Checks payable to the Library of Congress may be sent to the Sales Shop, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-4985. A mailing and handling charge of $5 will be added to the $28 cost of the publication.

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PR 99-051
4/21/99
ISSN 0731-3527

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